Team Abbey’s Angels
Gordon Thompson has served as the Administrative Support Coordinator for the Department of Information Systems in the College of Business since 2008. A husband and father of two teenagers, he devotes a great deal of his time to singing on the worship team at his church, is a member of the music boosters at Millikan High School, and serving on the Event Leadership Team for the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Relay for Life of the Greater Long Beach Area.
Relay for Life is an event that celebrates cancer survivors and their families, friends, and caregivers, as well as remembering those who have lost their lives to cancer. It began in May 1985 when colorectal surgeon, Dr. Gordy Klatt wanted to raise awareness of cancer and boost the income of his local cancer charity. He spent a grueling twenty-four hours circulating a track in Tacoma, Washington, and raised over $27,000, and showed that one person really can make a difference. Relay for Life has become the largest fundraising event for cancer in the world. Celebrated by more than 4 million people in over 20 countries, this inspirational event empowers and unites local communities to fight cancer, honor and remember loved ones, and take action for lifesaving change.
“I became involved with ACS after my wife, Abbey, was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in April of 2017. That June, a friend invited us to attend the Long Beach Relay. At one point, the announcer invited all survivors and their caregivers to walk the survivor lap. Abbey did not feel that she was a survivor, having only been diagnosed a few weeks prior and had not begun any treatment. But our friend pointed out, If you have cancer and are alive, then you are a survivor!’
“A few weeks later, Abbey endured a partial mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. That August, she began four rounds of chemotherapy, followed by radiation treatments. It was an extremely difficult time on her and our family. ACS was there to support, encourage, and educate us. In December of that year, Abbey was diagnosed as No Evidence of Disease (NED). In December 2021, she celebrated her fourth year as NED.
“In 2018, our family and a few friends formed team Abbey’s Angels to begin raising funds for ACS as our way of giving back and helping others to receive what we had received. The following year we joined the leadership team to help plan the next Relay and have been involved since. It is a family affair. My wife and I co-captain Abbey’s Angels, our daughter, Loren, is a national childhood cancer ambassador, and our son, Jacob, is willing to help at the event wherever he is needed. To date, Abbey’s Angels has raised around $10,000 for ACS.”
This year’s Relay was held on June 25 at the Long Beach Police Officer’s Association Park. The 12-hour Relay hosted over 30 teams, had 20 local sponsors, and hundreds of participants. Throughout the day, local groups entertained the attendees as they walked the track and supported the various teams with their onsite fundraising of raffles, games, and items for purchase. It concluded with the Luminaria Ceremony that included a slideshow of survivors and those who have lost their battle, then a final lap led by a lone bagpiper with luminarias hung between the trees that were decorated in horror and memory of loved ones.
“I lost my dad to esophageal cancer when I was 14 and my mom to breast cancer when I was 22. My list of people battling cancer or who have died from cancer is too long. I want to see the day when the world is cancer free.”
It is estimated that one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer over a lifetime. ACS with their message of Hope Fight Cure is leading that charge.
If you would like to support Gordon with his efforts with ACS, please visit Gordon's Relay Page.